Who do you Trust? …Building Trust in a remote working environment

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As a child I was told, “Trust is earned not given” the saying stuck with me, and as we adapt to a new world of hybrid working, I find myself pondering its meaning. 

To say trust is earned is to imply, it can’t be given, and can only come after a passage of time. So imagine my quandary as to when like others I must immediately honour my team with the trust to perform and to deliver in a remote working world.

Regardless of service length, seasoned employees or new starters, the process of developing trust is complex, it cannot be hastened, nor can we assume much like respect and loyalty that trust exists within our teams. 

So why do we place so much emphasis on trust in professional relationships? 

Quite simply when an employee is trusted to accomplish a task on their own, they feel empowered, they feel motivated and this enhances human performance.

Trusting your employees and having them self-motivated will not lead you to micromanage them which ends up in unhappy employees, rather they will collaborate freely, they will be loyal, and they will suffer from less anxiety and stress.

Sounds great hey?! So how do we enlist our teams with trust, when we are operating in multiple locations… How can we possibly develop loyalty through the means of zoom?

It’s about positive leadership and using goals as a driver to establish trust. We must focus on outcomes, rather than hours, and recognise the quality of what our teams produce rather than the number of hours they sit at their desks. 

We must be understanding, and compassionate. The Covid-19 pandemic affected our lives beyond our work, and in the average day, there will be interruptions, there will be deliveries, and school runs.

We all felt sorry for the Sky News Deborah Haynes, who was interrupted live on TV by her toddler asking for a biscuit, this should not affect our trust in that employee, but rather it shines a light on the agile way of working we must all adapt to. 

It is our role as leaders, to create a trusted environment for our teams, and we can start by recognising the four elements of trust: Compassion, Communication, Consistency, and Competency. Devin, V. (2006) The Four Elements of Leadership.

No one likes to be labelled predictable but we must become the constant, we must ensure a consistent workflow, and predictability in our communications, it is our role as leaders to provide the framework for which our remote working teams can thrive. 

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